by Andrew Pacholyk MS LAc.
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Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a complex disorder characterized by extreme fatigue or tiredness that doesn’t improve with rest and can’t be explained by an underlying medical condition. It is also known as myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) or systemic exertion intolerance disease (SEID).

The key difference between regular fatigue and chronic fatigue is that with CFS, the fatigue and associated symptoms like muscle pain, headaches, poor sleep, and problems with memory/concentration persist for 6 months or longer.

Possible Causes of Chronic Fatigue

The exact cause of CFS is unknown, but some hypothesized contributors include:

– Viral infections like Epstein-Barr virus

– Immune system abnormalities or inflammation

– Hormonal imbalances like low cortisol

– Mitochondrial dysfunction within the cells

– Abnormalities in the nervous or endocrine system

– Genetic predisposition

– Emotional trauma or chronic stress

Diagnosis of CFS involves ruling out other medical conditions that could explain the fatigue through history, exam, and testing.

15 Ways to Manage Chronic Fatigue

If you are living with CFS, here are some tips that may help improve your energy levels and ability to function:

1. Pace yourself – balance activity with rest periods to avoid post-exertional malaise.

2. Prioritize the most important tasks and let go of non-essentials.

3. Adopt good sleep habits like sticking to a schedule and limiting lights/noise.

4. Eat a healthy, balanced diet and stay hydrated.

5. Try relaxation techniques like yoga, meditation, or deep breathing.

6. Set limits on work and social obligations.

7. Find support through family, and friends, or join a CFS patient group.

8. Treat any underlying conditions like insomnia, depression, pain, etc.

9. Experiment with supplements like CoQ10, magnesium, B vitamins.

10. If possible, build in afternoon naps or rest breaks.

11. Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and caffeinated drinks which can worsen fatigue.

12. Start with gentle exercises like walking, swimming, or stretching.

13. Minimize stress and seek counseling if emotional issues are present.

14. Consider cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or graded exercise therapy (GET).

15. Communicate needs clearly to your workplace, school, or caregivers.


While there is no cure for CFS, implementing some of these self-care strategies may help reduce fatigue, improve coping ability, and enhance overall quality of life. Work closely with your healthcare provider to find the right treatment approach for you.

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